Local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) advocacy nonprofit, Rock of Hope, is making history by hosting Eswatini’s first LGBTI Pride celebration in Mbabane on Saturday, June 30th.
“Opportunities for the larger Swazi society to interact with the LGBTI community in a positive way are rare, and events that provide safe spaces for LGBTI people to celebrate their identities are sorely lacking. We think visibility is the key that will push the message and conversation further,” said Melusi Simelane, Communications & Advocacy Manager at Rock of Hope.
A large-scale, public LGBTI event of this kind has never been held in the Kingdom of Eswatini to-date. Hosting the first LGBTI Pride would be a giant step forward towards achieving equality, as Pride events around the world have repeatedly been shown to bring people together to stand in solidarity with the LGBTI community.
Given the tremendous work Rock of Hope has done to advocate for Swazi LGBTI people since its inception in 2012, it is uniquely positioned to catalyze community engagement by hosting this historic event.
Rock of Hope warmly invites all community members to join in the LGBTI Pride celebration by participating in a parade march around the city of Mbabane, ending with a lively festival at Prince of Wales playground. Globally, many cities have embraced the LGBTI community through Pride celebrations, but some have done this in a more flashy or extreme way than the organizers intend for Eswatini. Rock of Hope emphasizes that this event will simply be an inclusive, family-friendly celebration of love and equality. Everyone is encouraged to attend, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, income, age, etc. The aim of this inaugural LGBTI Pride event will be to celebrate the diverse identities of LGBTI people in a safe space, create a more visible awareness of the community, and foster inclusion and acceptance throughout greater Swazi society.
Eswatini will be the sixth country in Southern Africa to ever host an LGBTI Pride celebration, following in the footsteps of South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. International attention and support for the event has been growing since the launch of a fundraiser in late March with assistance from the global
crowdfunding platform, All Out. The generous support from local and international individuals, Rock of Hope
was able to raise enough money to host this inclusive, family-friendly celebration of diversity and love.
“If people reading this share our view that Pride has an incredible tradition across the world of raising visibility and creating change, they should support the Swazi activists. It will give this community a precious opportunity to come together in solidarity with each other and share strength and visibility in ways they would never
otherwise have,” said Matt Beard, Executive Director of the global crowdfunding platform, All Out.
To find further details on Eswatini’s first LGBTI Pride and subscribe for updates, check out Rock of Hope’s website https://www.therockofhopesd.org/events/pride-march